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Baker's Dozen

Constellations In The Sky: Jonathan Donahue Of Mercury Rev's Top LPs
Yousif Nur , October 22nd, 2015 10:15

From spooky narrations in the Catskill Mountains to avant-garde masterworks, the New York band's singer and guitarist tells Yousif Nur about the albums and one song that have had a lasting impact on his own music


Modest Mussorgsky - Night On Bald Mountain
Growing up I didn't have an older brother, so all my music was formed by my mother and father. The latter would play old Irish folk songs and outlaw music by Johnny Cash and the only thing my mother would play was heavy melancholy orchestral movements like Night On Bald Mountain. What my mother would make me do is sit on the floor and tell my father to tell a story while putting on this record. This was big for me. I was probably four years old at the time. It sounded eerie, spooky and epic. My dad would make up these ghost stories but what he was really doing was recreating these children's story soundtracks that I'd listened to! I was too young to understand what he was doing at the time, but he was just making his personalised version of The Little Prince or Tales of Witches, Ghosts And Goblins. So he'd be like [eerie voice]: "The ghosts would move up the Catskill Mountains..." and I'd just sit there freezing in fear of these ghost stories! It was like having a musical campfire in your living room.

Also, this song featured on the film Fantasia, which was my whole life up until the age of ten. It stuck with me and it was embedded in there now you're mixing visuals. I wasn't into the Mickey Mouse aspect of it, but when you watch the eerie castle and spooky ghosts, this is just feeding a young boy's imagination and this is the world he's going to confront when he grows up. These were all the ingredients going into my soup.

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